3 Mistakes in Sales Improvement


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Sales or marketing challenges exist in every organization. Sales performance may be suffering. Or Marketing isn’t connecting with the market. The acute issues of 5-10 years back (sales process, CRMs, dialing or direct mail leads, etc.) aren’t the same today (social prospecting, content marketing, buying process maps, etc.). Some challenges are eternal (sufficient quality talent, sales coaching, account segmentation.)

3 mistakes of sales improvement can be avoided with the Stakeholder Scheduler

Two sure things about solving the issues: 1) there are no silver bullets and 2) Lone Rangers can’t solve them alone. It takes a team to overcome the challenges that exist. This post discusses which stakeholders to involve.  Also, what is expected of those stakeholders. HR, Sale and Marketing leaders alike will want to read this. Also, this downloadable, free tool (The Stakeholder Scheduler) is what you need. It outlines the stakeholders and their involvement for various sales force solutions.


The Wrong Way To Improve

Working with Russ at a B2B software firm made this painfully clear. Russ is the HR business partner to sales. Through much discovery and sales leader conversations, he knew sales talent was an issue. In his enthusiasm, he rushed into solving the issue. He made mistake that caused shelf ware (when his solution did not get adopted.) His mistake? He didn’t involve the right stakeholders for the right reasons. In fact, he only worked with the head of sales and two sales managers. Had Russ used the Stakeholder Scheduler, the issue would be close to resolution. Instead, he ran into roadblock after roadblock. For example, other SMs didn’t adopt the new hiring profile. It wasn’t comfortable for them to use. Finance didn’t allow increased base salary for the types of new hires needed. Sales ops could not get the needed behavior measurements implemented. The result: failed adoption. Worse, the sales force now had another example of a “program du jour”. They quickly went back to their old ways.

3 Key Mistakes

1. Not involving the correct stakeholders

Who should be involved depends on the issue.  You may not need the CFO involved for a buyer persona project.  However, if compensation is a problem, the CFO will definitely be an interested party. The Stakeholder Scheduler shows who should be involved for 7 different solution areas.

2. Not being clear on what is expected of each stakeholder

Each stakeholder you involve needs to know what is expected of him/her.  Is it simply input?  Some provide more than input. Here are some expected stakeholder actions listed in the tool:

• Input – Stakeholder provides input on issues, challenges, best practices, concerns, etc. This should happen throughout the project.

• Design – Stakeholder actually is doing some of the work to design the solution. This could be creating a document or designing full courseware.

• Implement – Stakeholder is involved in the roll out of the solution.

The Stakeholder Scheduler tells you what is expected of each Stakeholder.

3. Over reliance on too few stakeholders

It is important to have a main project sponsor or champion. But only relying on 1 or 2 stakeholders for the project is a mistake.  The risk is that not all angles are taken into consideration. This means that the outcome may not be fully adopted. Or, too few stakeholders doing all the work will quickly lead to burnout. The Stakeholder Scheduler helps you involve more of the correct stakeholders.

How to Avoid These Mistakes

1. Frame the issue that needs resolution

2. Identify the stakeholders that will be involved. Use the Stakeholder Scheduler to understand who needs to do what. Without this tool, you may miss a key stakeholder and his/her action(s). This will lead to failed adoption and wasted money

3. Work with the stakeholders and project team to define the problem.

4. Continue to leverage stakeholders to solve the defined problem(s).

5. Enlist stakeholder help to ensure successful adoption of the resolution.

6. Communicate public gratitude for stakeholder assistance.

Make sure your next improvement for Sales and Marketing is a hit. Involve the correct stakeholders for the correct actions. After you download the tool, let me know if you need any help.

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net -> stockimages. 

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Loftness
Steve has worked for more than 20 years in process design and implementation, as a certified Six Sigma Black Belt. While at Sales Benchmark Index, he has helped many B-to-B organizations eliminate non-value add selling activities resulting in productivity improvements of 20+%.


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